In the heart of San Diego, California, lies the San Diego Museum of Art. This all-encompassing gallery has a great diversity of art pieces, creating a well-balanced representation of art throughout the centuries. Established in 1926, the museum aims to provide education as well as inspire and develop artistic curiosity. The permanent and featured exhibits allow visitors to have a culturally diverse experience, while the information beside each piece is written in both English and Spanish to accommodate speakers of both languages. The San Diego Museum of Art is a popular attraction for art lovers, and it is a place where anyone can be inspired by the galleries.



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The history behind the museum begins in 1868, when the civic leaders of San Diego set 1,400 acres aside for a natural area known as City Park. Eventually the name of the park was changed to Balboa Park, as it is still known today. Following the name change, the Panama-California Exposition was held in Balboa Park to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. This event, in 1915-16, created a flourishing of culture and architecture in the park, and many of the Spanish-Renaissance style architecture was built then. A decade later, in 1926, the San Diego Museum of Art was officially founded. This museum, and others on the El Prado road, are housed in Spanish-style buildings that were constructed for the Panama-California Exposition.

The San Diego Museum of Art has a diverse spread of art exhibitions that date from 5000 B.C. to the present. Within these collections there are more than 18,000 objects in various mediums, including paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics, metalwork, prints, and drawings. These collections include pieces from many different artistic time periods from the Renaissance and the impressionistic era to modern and contemporary art. Art from all around the world, including the Middle East, Africa and Oceania, South and East Asia, Europe and America, is represented in the museum.

The collection of American art displays a wide variety of piece in many different mediums, such as oil, acrylic, ceramics, etching, photography, and sculpture. The works of a variety of artists, such as Georgia O’Keefe, Alfred Richard Mitchell, and George Wesley Bellows, are represented in this diverse collection. The artwork depicts the changes in both American society and politics throughout the years, while each permanent exhibit tells a unique story about a different part of the world or time period. The museum also offers featured exhibits, which rotate often, increasing the sphere of knowledge available on specific subjects.

Certain special exhibits are only featured in the art museum for a limited period of time; these showcases have included such titles as Modern Japan, Reflections on Monet, and Richard Deacon. Modern Japan displayed the works of several Japanese artists, who capture the romantic fantasy, tranquility, and beautiful scenery of Japan in their art. Reflections of Monet showed the impressionist style of paintings by French artist Claude Monet at the turn of the century, while Richard Deacon’s exhibit What You See is What You Get displayed more than 40 pieces of contemporary sculpture. These unusual artistic combinations challenge the viewer’s expectations of sculpture.

At the San Diego Museum of Art there are many featured events throughout the year, which enhance the experience at the museum. Some of these events include art after hours, summer youth programs, meet and greets with artists, and artist talks. Screen on the Green is also available for a month in the summer, enabling visitors to watch films outside in the evening once a week. Within the museum, in the garden of Balboa Park is Panama 66, a restaurant with an incredible atmosphere and great food, offering lunch and dinner daily with weekend brunch, making this a beautiful area to relax and eat. During part of the year, there is a weekly jazz band, which can be enjoyed along with craft beers and cocktails on the outdoor patio.

Surrounding the San Diego Museum of Art is Balboa Park, a natural paradise within the busy city and home to many different museums and cultural attractions, including the SanDiego Museum of Man, the San Diego Railroad Museum, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, California Tower, and the San Diego Zoo. The park is a beautiful and tranquil area, also known to be a calming nature retreat, making it a perfect place to visit after the San Diego Museum of Art.

1450 El Prado, CA 92112-2107, Phone: 619-232-7931

Back to: San Diego, CA

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